Almost four in five (78%) of organizations have employees using cloud services without the knowledge of IT, according to new research by NTT Communications. The research showed that employees deliberately bypass IT in adopting applications because IT approval processes are too slow, too draconian or do not offer the solutions they want.

According to the report, 78 per cent of business decision makers (BDMs) admit that employees in their department are using cloud services without knowledge of the IT department, while 77 per cent of IT decision makers (ITDMs) are aware that is happening. 56 per cent reported having no idea where their shadow IT data is being stored. 79 per cent of respondents said that they store data in the cloud that is critical to their organization.

The main reasons why employees are ignoring IT department policy and going undercover are primarily down to ease-of-use, with 62 per cent citing ‘ease of set up’ as their primary motivation, with a further 52 per cent saying ‘ease of use’ is a defining factor. 29 per cent say shadow IT provides a cheaper alternative to their prescribed ‘official’ option.

The report suggests that shadow IT is here to stay. While there is widespread use of unauthorized services and at the same time an acceptance that doing so breaches company policy, 87 per cent of BDMs surveyed believe the trend is set to increase over the next two years.

57 per cent of respondents went as far as saying that shadow IT is happening in at least half of the departments in their enterprise. The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of NTT Com, also revealed that of the 500 IT and business decision makers surveyed across the EU, shadow IT has been used on average for 18 months, while 87 per cent of respondents believe it will increase in frequency over the next 2 years.

Simply shutting down the command and control of shadow IT is not the answer, according to Len Padilla, Vice President Product Strategy, NTT Europe. “Our recommendation is that IT departments jettison the ‘Ministry of No’ approach and instead work with their business colleagues to understand why the shadow IT solutions they are currently using are better than those that the IT department can offer.

“This consultative approach will enable organizations to get a full view of their IT estate.  This will effectively create an amnesty with which to achieve compliance – while retaining the edge employees are looking for to carry out their jobs and ensure the success of the business,” he added.